Late Night Classics – Beverly Hills Vamp & Teenage Exorcist
After almost a year away from blogging, it’s time to dust off the movies I hold dear to my heart, those good old Late Night Classics. I have never done a retrospective on a Fred Olen Ray film, so I couldn’t think of a better idea then to do an article on one he directed and one he produced.
But there is more than one common link, comic genius Eddie Deezen steals the show in both of them. Eddie is one of the kindest gentleman in the movie industry, and that comes though in spades in our relaxing interview. Enjoy!
Jason Bene: You are mostly remembered for your early career where you starred in such films as Grease, Grease 2, Wargames, 1941, Zapped! and Midnight Madness… just to name a few. Can you talk about this period of your life? It must have been an exciting time for you.
Eddie Deezen: Yes, it definitely was. I mean, I was 20 and I was filming Grease with John Travolta. I was driven home each night with Sid Caesar in a chauffeured car. I was in a major movie. And I was sitting in Paramount Studios, too. Paramount was always my favorite studio – Martin & Lewis, The Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, they all did their films at Paramount. Holy cow, I was filming with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Steven Frigging Spielberg!!! It was surreal. All of the big stars I met were all extremely nice people, too. This was frosting on the cake.
Grease was a joy from the word go. It was like going to the greatest party of your life and it lasted two months. On 1941, I got motion sick from being spun around in the ferris wheel. I was taken to Steven Spielberg’s dressing room and I threw up in his toilet. What an honor. One day, Steven treated me and Belushi and Aykroyd to lunch in the commissary. I was so nervous, I don’t think I said a word. I just sat there like an idiot and watched those guys chat and eat. Luckily, Steven picked up the tab. I had no money in my pocket!!
JB: When was the first time you met director Fred Olen Ray? Were you aware that he was a very famous B-movie filmmaker before you starting making Beverly Hills Vamp?
ED: I met Fred on Mob Boss. I loved the guy from the word go. He was a funny guy and he had a funny sense of humor. Plus, on Mob Boss, I got to make out with Morgan Fairchild. I loved Morgan. A lovely lady. A very funny actress. No, I had never heard of Fred before that film. Now I know him as a cult figure and legend.
JB: What I love about Beverly Hills Vamp is that it is one of the first movies where you have considerable screen time. You must have been doing back flips when you were handed the script.
ED: Well, I have a lot of screen time in I Wanna Hold Your Hand, too. That was the Beatles film I did in 1977, after Grease and Laserblast. That may be my best-ever performance. Bob Zemeckis is my all-time favorite director. But thanks. Yes, it was fun to film. Fred is a very easy going director. I am not good at memorizing lines, you know.
JB: You are surrounded by beautiful women most of the time in the movie, one of them being notable “Scream Queen” Michelle Bauer. What was it like working with her? Have you ran into her over the years?
ED: Michelle was very nice. Very professional. She was fun and easy to work with.
JB: Many of the contemporary comedians feel the need to jabber too much and use a lot of curse words. You were always about comedic timing and employing a more subtle approach. Was that something you practiced, or did it come naturally?
ED: Well, in films, you do what they write for you in the scripts. You know, so I just followed how I was directed or written for. But I’m glad. I’m not a huge fan of curse words. Although I love watching Family Guy. It’s pretty out there. Not necessarily curse words, but pretty crude, and pretty funny.
JB: From what I’ve read on the internet, Lionsgate owns the rights to Beverly Hills Vamp, which has never been released on DVD. I think a lot of your fans are missing out one of your best performances. Maybe one day they’ll put it out.
ED: I hope so. I have it on VHS. I must admit, I haven’t watched it in years.
JB: Once again, you got to work with Fred Olen Ray, this time on Teenage Exorcist, which he wrote and produced. How did that project come about?
ED: I think Fred likes to use actors and folks he has worked with before. So, I got the job. Most directors I know are like that. It is always a pleasure to work with Fred. It’s a shame he doesn’t do a lot of comedy films anymore. He is a wonderful comedy director.
JB: You go from one hot brunette to the next. This time around you got to work alongside the sultry Brinke Stevens. I’ve interviewed her before, and I found her to be a real sweetheart and a down to Earth person. What memories do you have of her?
ED: Brinke is a doll. I loved working with her. She is great. I hope she’s well. I haven’t seen her in so long.
JB: Beverly Hills Vamp and Teenage Exorcist are both low budget affairs with a tight shooting schedule. Now that I have visited a few film sets, I have so much respect for everyone who has a hand in making a picture. What’s your routine on set?
ED: Well, I’ve done huge budget films and low budget films. There is a nice intimacy to low budget films. Like in Laserblast, we didn’t even have dressing rooms. We all got made up in the same big warehouse we all shared. We all hung out together. Then, onPolar Express, the budget was like $200,000,000. We had these wonderful gourmet meals at lunch. I had a guy on salary to put in my contact lenses and a nice chauffeur to drive me wherever I wanted. I like a friendly set. I like to work with nice people. Luckily, that’s the way it usually is. Most folks in the movie industry are very nice.
JB: What have you been up to lately? Are there any new projects you can tell me about?
ED: I will be signing at The Hollywood Show (Los Angeles, California) on October 5th and 6th. I love doing these signing shows. I get to meet so many wonderful people.
I just filmed a brief cameo for a TV movie called All I Want For Christmas, directed by guess who? Fred Olen Ray!